170,000 evacuated as typhoon approaches Vietnam

Authorities evacuated 170,000 people as Typhoon Ketsana approached and heavy winds began lashing Vietnam's central coast, officials said today.

Ketsansa, which killed 240 people in the Philippines, gathered strength as it headed toward Vietnam and was upgraded from a tropical storm to a typhoon.

It is expected to make landfall on Vietnam's central coast later today, according to the national weather forecaster.

Some 170,000 people had been evacuated from six central provinces by midday local time, disaster official Nguyen Van Vy said.

Rains and heavy winds had began lashing the coast this morning, knocking out electricity in some places.

"There's a blackout across our entire province," said Truong Ngoc Nhi, vice governor of Quang Ngai province, south of Danang.

"Many streets are strewn with fallen trees and utility poles. It looks like a battlefield."

Vietnam Airlines has cancelled all flights to the tourist destinations of Danang and Hue.

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